Exhausted Contador concedes Tour de France defeat

COL DU GALIBIER, France, (Reuters) – Alberto  Contador said winning a fourth Tour de France title this year  was now “impossible” after he cracked in the final ascent of yesterday’s 18th stage won by Andy Schleck.

Alberto Contador

The 28-year-old Spaniard finished 3 minutes and 50 seconds  behind the stage winner, who is now poised to reach the top of  the podium in Paris after finishing runner-up to Contador in the  last two editions.

Contador, seventh overall, trails France’s Thomas Voeckler  by 4:44 with Schleck just 15 seconds behind the leader.

“Victory is impossible now. I had a bad day,” the Spaniard  said.

“My legs did not respond and I suffered an incredible  collapse. It was a very hard day from the start.”

Contador did not respond to Schleck’s attack 60 kilometres  from the finish as the peloton was confident they could reel in  the Luxembourg rider in the valley leading to the final climb.

They did not and Australian Cadel Evans launched the pursuit  in the ascent to the Col du Galibier to limit the damage with  Contador, who had to take an analgesic for the pain in his right  knee, cracking with just less than two kilometres left.

“Andy played his cards in an intelligent way. He got team  mates into the breakaway and he rode a great stage.  Congratulations to him, added Contador, who is unbeaten in all  the grand Tours he has entered since 2007.

“I did not expect this but I’m used to different situations.  Now I am thinking about resting. I am exhausted and thinking  about tomorrow now.” Today’s 19th stage is a short, punchy ride to the top of  the famous Alpe d’Huez.

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